The following Tuesday August 22, 2017 I had a follow up appointment with Dr. Rashid to discuss the results. All the results were in except the lymph node biopsy. My aunt Judy was with me for support.
As we waited in the exam room Dr. Rashid came in and informed both breast biopsies came back malignant. Malignant means cancer for those that don’t know. She also told me they were different cancers, both breast cancer but different pathologies. Basically it meant I have 2 cancers. My oncologist would later go into detail of this. She gave us a moment and stepped out of the room.
I was in shock, I cried and I was very grateful Judy was with me. I remember her telling me I didn’t cry enough. I couldn’t, I had to figure out the plan and how to not have cancer. I had just turned 36 two months prior, I wasn’t ready to hear you, hey you have cancer. The truth is 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. Please check yourself, I found my tumor which led me to discover I had another cancer developing in my right breast. That mass I wouldn’t have felt until it was more advanced. I will get into the diagnosis in a later post.
Dr. Rashid came back into the room to see how I was. She assured me that I was going to beat this and thrive on the other side. She went into surgery options, explaining the next step was meeting with my oncologist, who she would refer me to. The first words I said was are you going to cut my pectoral muscle?. Its amazing what goes through your head when you’re told you have cancer. Well that was my first thought. I was straight forward about wanting a double mastectomy also known as a bi-lateral mastectomy. I am stating that because that is how I refer to it today so I don’t want any confusion. She also explained that depending on my oncologist, each proceed differently. Some say chemotherapy first and surgery second or surgery first and then chemotherapy. They will look at the pathology of the biopsy and explain which way they feel is best and why. Her explaining that to me I was prepared for the meeting with my oncologist.
I want to touch on something and I think this is a good place for it. This is more for anyone who finds themselves in my situation. There are several surgical options out there. Lumpectomy, single mastectomy and bi-lateral mastectomy. You decide what is best for you. You listen to your doctors they are there to help you decide. You may even have people in your life saying no this is best or don’t do that. What you decide is you ultimately your decision. I decided a bi-lateral mastectomy was best for me since I had 2 cancers one in each breast and I just wanted them gone. I literally felt betrayed by them, is the best way to describe it. It was a long 6 months with them before I had my surgery.
In case you weren’t paying attention above it was two days later I received the phone call about the lymph node biopsy. I remember because I was driving home from work when I got the call. I pulled over into this business parking lot probably less than a mile from work. Every time I see this parking lot I remember this call. It was Dr. Rashid and she told me the biopsy showed malignant cells were present in my lymph nodes. One of things I have told myself through all of this and I still say it to myself, it could always be worse. It helps me keep things in perspective.
The next post in this section will be meeting my oncologist, my diagnosis and expected treatment.